Vanity of Our Efforts without God

Psalm 127:1-2

Psalm 127 was written by Solomon – king of Israel and builder of the temple. He understood the need to rely upon God. In this lesson, we are going to make some spiritual applications to what Solomon mentioned in this psalm.

Building the House

  • God’s house today is the church (1 Timothy 3:15) – made up of Christians (1 Peter 2:5)
  • If we do not want our efforts to be in vain, we must build God’s house in His way
  • We build God’s house in His way by following the pattern given in His word (2 Timothy 1:13) – principle in the OT (Exodus 25:40) carried over into the NT (Hebrews 8:6); everything we do must be authorized (Colossians 3:17; Matthew 28:18-20)
  • We build the house (grow the church) by preaching the gospel (Matthew 28:19) – this is the means by which the Lord calls people to Him (2 Thessalonians 2:14); we must preach the gospel in its entirety (Acts 20:27) and never change it (Galatians 1:6-9)
  • It is vain to build in any other way – change the message, add “ministries,” host social events, etc.
  • Many do this – but any fruit (growth) is meaningless; not converting people to Christ (Matthew 23:15)

Guarding the City

  • The city that is being guarded today is the local church – under the watchmen’s charge (Acts 20:28)
  • If the church is not protected against attacks, some or all of the disciples could be led astray
  • The work of elders is to watch over the flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2) – provide spiritual oversight (Hebrews 13:17); necessary because of the threats from outside the church and within the church (Acts 20:29-30); it is possible for those who once stood for the truth to fall away and the previous labor for them be in vain (Galatians 4:11)
  • The city is guarded (church is protected) through the word of God (Titus 1:9-11) – this is why Paul commended the Ephesian elders to the word of God (Acts 20:32); the church must be the pillar and support of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15); the flock must be fed (1 Peter 5:2)
  • It is vain to protect in any other way – ignore error, compromise the truth, conform to the world, etc.
  • Many do this – but they have already abandoned the Lord; no longer protecting against sin/error

The Fruit of Our Labors

  • As we make a spiritual application, this is about the work we do for the Lord
  • If we are not working the way God wants us to, our efforts will be in vain
  • This passage is certainly not discouraging work – we are to be “zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14) and “[bear] fruit in every good work” (Colossians 1:10); but it is not up to us to define what these are; good works are defined in God’s word (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • When we do God’s work in His way, He gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6) – it is not up to us to produce results (1 Corinthians 1:17), we are simply to plant the seed (Luke 8:5-8, 11); the fruit is not always seen by the one who began the work (John 4:37-38)
  • It is vain to work for the Lord without doing what He has instructed us to do (Matthew 7:22-23)
  • Many do this – they may be working sincerely and diligently, but are not working in God’s way


  • It does not matter how much effort we put into something – if we don’t do things God’s way, it is in vain
  • We need to be content with doing things God’s way – work diligently and put our trust in Him and His plan

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